Sunday Lowdown #52

This Week’s Blog Posts:

Two very different titles made their way to Grab the Lapels this week. Judy Oppenheimer’s biography of Shirley Jackson, Private Demons, had a major, distracting, unkind flaw. But after thinking harder on it, I would still recommend the biography for the various sides of Jackson caught by friends, family, and acquaintances.

What do you get when you mix a Tennessee wildlife ranger with a shady past and American’s fat, funny Hollywood sweetheart? Well, a romance novel that’s too perfect. They don’t even fight about who turns off the bedroom light once they’ve both tucked themselves in for the night (or is this just a thing at my house?). Grin and Beard It by Penny Reid is a warm-and-squishies that readers will love as a distraction when they think too hard about election season or doing the dishes.

Next Week’s Blog Posts:

I did it. I started reading The Descentverse series by S.M. Reine from the beginning. I loved Drawing Dead (from the 9th series), and I’m starting way back at the origin. My review of the very first book, Death’s Hand, will go up on Tuesday. I’ll be reviewing the first book in each series in the “Descentverse” and then reviewing the whole series. You can see a reading list HERE if you’d like to join along. These books are a hoot — just so fun. I first got involved in this series because the heroine of Drawing Dead is a fat tank of a woman that you want to follow around forever. Yes, the book met my criteria for my fat reading quest.

I’m interested in doing more book-to-screen reviews in 2020, and my first selection is My Cousin Rachel starring Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin. Any films or TV shows you’re interested in me reviewing? Let me know in the comments. My screen review goes up Thursday.

Book I’m Reading Aloud to My Spouse:

We’re still plugging along with Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier. I’ve noticed that my reading-aloud skills are improving dramatically. In about 30 minutes I can read ten pages (pages with almost no dialogue) aloud with very few flubs. And I’m always enunciating very clearly (part of why the flubs start to decrease).

On the side, after I read to the spouse I read a chapter from the biography of Flannery O’Connor by Brad Gooch. This led me to pick up Wise Blood, O’Connor’s first novel, in audiobook format. Narrated by Bronson Pinchot (best known as Balki in the 80s-90s show Perfect Strangers), the southern characters of varying ages, genders, and intellect, come to life.

Books Added to the TBR Pile:

Thanks to Sarah @ Hamlets & Hyperspace for bringing to my attention Or What You Will and Tammy @ Books, Bones, and Buffy for her recommendation.


  1. Grin and Beard It sounds so funny. Sometimes what you need most is a distraction. Look at you, diving into another series. I’m so proud, but also really admire your dedication to finishing them when I am over here with a hundred ongoing series and still ready to start more. I’ve really enjoyed Charlie N. Holmberg novels in the past but am now several books behind. This is the first time I am hearing about this one. Psst, I have a small lamp by my bed that I use at night so I don’t have to get up to shut off the light. Also considered training my dog to shut it off, but that was too much. Hope February treats you well.


    • Since you can read the Winston Brothers series books as stand-alone novels, I won’t be continuing this one. However, I did start a new paranormal urban fantasy series, so I’m currently falling down that rabbit hole! I think you would really enjoy Grin and Beard It. The main character is Latinx, and she talks about her role uplifting future Latinx actors in Hollywood.


  2. Looking forward to your review of the Cousin Rachel adaptation, of course!!
    I also find it interesting that you note your reading-aloud skills improving! I’m in the habit of occasionally reading aloud to myself, to help me focus or just to appreciate writing I really like; anyway, I have also noticed when I’m reading aloud more frequently that I fall into the rhythm of it and make fewer mistakes, and alternatively when I don’t bother for several months I feel out of practice when I start up again! I’m not sure why reading aloud feels like a skill I need to keep up with, but I do catch myself actively working at it after I haven’t bothered for a while! There’s something so oddly satisfying about being able to read aloud smoothly.


    • Good gravy, the other night I read aloud 28 pages from Jamaica Inn, which is about as dense on the page (not much dialogue) as My Cousin Rachel. I can’t even remember what happened….maybe the spouse started folding clothes, so I kept reading?? Not sure.

      I know that both of us disliked the 2017 film, and I’m excited to chat about what didn’t work for you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love the mental image of you reading aloud while your spouse folds laundry. What a great way to read! 🙂

        I ended up being unexpectedly busy away from home this week and am planning to catch up on reading blogs this weekend. I look forward to chatting about My Cousin Rachel when I get to your post!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That book about publishing looks interesting to me, too, and the new Jo Walton (although I’ve only read one – maybe two? – books by her and it’s just about good intentions when it comes to the rest, so far anyway). Also, I echo Anne’s mention of the Flannery picture book; that’s one I recently discovered on my Flannery project too. (I’m about halfway through the first collection of her letters. Habit of Being. Eventually I’ll get to the bio you’re reading too, I think: I’m still curious.)


    • The bio is really well organized, though there isn’t nearly as much from the mouths of her, her friends, and family as I saw and liked in Shirley Jackson’s bio by Judy Oppenheimer.

      I have forthcoming plans to host a month of Flannery’s short stories if you’re interested. Stay tuned.

      Liked by 1 person

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